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Financial Briefs

Still reeling from Thursday’s announcement of network-funded ratings-gathering experiments, A.C. Nielsen Co. took another hit Friday when Chicago-based Information Resources Inc. announced its acquisition of Asian TV audience measurement giant Survey Research Group. SRG, which had been negotiating with Nielsen, broke off its talks with the company Jan. 31 and four days later announced it had accepted Info Resources’ offer of $ 76 million in stock. The move unites Info Resources, a major marketing research force in the U.S., with a company with a record in media audience measurement abroad. “That kind of mixture of services would be an effort to go head-to-head with Nielsen on a worldwide basis,” said Nicholas Schiavone, NBC’s VP for media and marketing research. The merger is expected to be finalized by July and must be OK’d by shareholders.

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Infinity Broadcasting Corp. is managing Westwood One Inc. a week after shareholders approved such a deal. Additionally, Westwood One completed its $ 101.3 million acquisition of radio network business of Unistar Radio Networks Inc. Infinity also acquired 5 million newly issued shares of Westwood stock for $ 3 a share and a warrant to buy another 3 million shares at the same price.

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Rupert Murdoch sold the Boston Herald Friday to the newspaper’s publisher, Patrick J. Purcell. Terms weren’t disclosed. Murdoch has an option to buy Boston television station WFXT-TV from the Boston Celtics, and sale of the paper removes regulatory obstacles to the purchase.

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Moody’s Investors Service placed the debt of Rogers Communications Inc. and subsidiaries under review for possible downgrade, following the announcement that Rogers Communications is pursuing the acquisition of Maclean Hunter Ltd., a major Canadian media company. Although no formal proposal has been made, Rogers’s offer is expected to include a significant cash component, which would be financed by a $ 1.5 billion bank facility arranged by Rogers and $ 527 million available from recent public debt offerings and the bank borrowing capacity of Rogers’ operating subsidiaries.

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The Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission said it will hold a public hearing in April to reconsider its decision to license two companies to offer Canada’s first pay audio programming services. The two companies are DMX Canada Ltd., a subsidiary of Shaw Cablesystems Ltd., and Cogeco Radio-Television Inc., a subsidiary of Cogeco Inc.

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